Looking Toward the Future
Guest Contributor: Walter J Gabrysiak
As I ride my bike on West Park Avenue, a busy street that runs down the middle of my hometown, I see the Post Office, American Way Convenience Store, the Towne Shoppes, and Starbucks—places I have visited numerous times with my friends throughout my high school years. However, recently I have also noticed a few things which, until now, had never caught my attention: litter, garbage, and a seemingly infinite amount of cigarette butts scattered on the ground, our Earth—the Earth that was once pure and without pollution, the Earth for which I have great appreciation. I see the damage that we as humans are contributing to each and every day. This planet is here for us, it gives us the opportunity to live and breathe and it is our job to preserve this beautiful and natural habitat which we all occupy.
A few months ago, I watched a documentary entitled Gasland, which discusses the process of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking,” as some say) and the detriment it places on water and air quality, as well as the ecosystems in the vicinity of the drilling. It is a big political issue currently, and one that has captured my attention. The documentary covers the negative aspects of fracking; as for the other side of this environmental debate, I am not as educated as I would like. However, after research and discussion with my peers, it seems clear that the fracking process needs significant scientific review to determine whether or not it is unhealthy for the environment and for all of us as humans.
With all the talk about climate change, environmental migration, and alternative sources of energy, I have become increasingly interested in learning about the environment. My increased appreciation for the environment has also come from my part-time job. This summer I worked on a farm, part of Matt’s Farm Market—a local distributor of fresh grown produce, owned and operated by my Uncle Chris and his business partner. I picked tomatoes, learned which were ripe and which were not (the heirloom varieties get tricky), and most importantly saw the true beauty of the farm and neighboring area. Among the thousand tomato plants are cantaloupes, peppers, eggplant, and squash—all of which I picked at some point. I arrived at the farm early in the morning and left in the afternoon, a task I thoroughly enjoyed, but nevertheless was tedious and time consuming. The experience gave me time to organize my thoughts and learn new things, an old school job without technology of any kind. The Earth is a beautiful place where plants will grow as long as the sun shines and rain falls, a beautiful place that must be protected and preserved.
We are on a path of environmental degradation and the bottom line is, as the Earth changes, we as a community must as well. Plastic bottles, aerosol, cigarette smoke and cigarette butts—we encounter them on a daily basis, whether we take notice of them or not. Regardless of our awareness, these socially normal entities are affecting our Earth, whether by littering the ground or polluting the air. It seems like an American tradition, to treat our mother Earth as an astronomically sized garbage can. Is there a way to shed this human tendency, to be wasteful and unmindful of our planet’s environment? Can we all change as a collective whole? If so, how? These are the questions I ask, these are the questions that potentially house the solutions to the issues we face together as a community. Many of these questions have also inspired my new interest and awareness concerning environmental issues, both scientific and social. Through all this uncertainty, I am certain that my motivation to pursue a major in Environmental Science at The University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources, is an experience for which I am excited and grateful.